The Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse – the newly opened lounge at Newark International Airport – befits its namesake in the best way possible. Located airside, post security, it beckons travelers with recessed lighting and black lacquered walls. The entryway creates a marcasite effect similar to the setting on a sidewalk outside a ritzy afterhours boîte. Inside, soft ambient music plays a subtle backdrop to a landscape of passengers relaxing with their copies of the Financial Times or flipping through their iPads as they sip cups of tea. We recently visited Virgin Atlantic’s new clubhouse to experience their latest effort in making travel more comfortable.
Designed by the award winning New York based Slade Architecture, the Newark Clubhouse is part of Virgin Atlantic’s £100 million investment in its Upper Class product. Inside, the palette of the space plays with grays, reds, and neutrals. A prismatic bar is the centerpiece in a room whose design transitions seamlessly from squat charcoal-gray sofas to graceful swooping lounge chairs to plush booths. In the area caddy corner to the entrance (dubbed the “passion pit”) passengers reclining amid hues of rose are encouraged to grab a little shut-eye.
The space does just as much to entice its guests to stay awake. The Clubhouse’s Liquid Lounge offers a place where passengers can socialize over a signature drink. Passengers seated here can also sample a selection of Tea Forte, freshly ground Lavazza coffee, and light fare from the kitchen.
Entering the dining room prepares the palette for a more exotic turn. Orbs of light are suspended from the ceiling in the fashion of a chandelier, illuminating an array of dining options unlike any one would expect from an airport establishment, even one as experiential as this. A bowl of red curry noodles arrives piping hot and dressed with lime and chili peanuts, reminiscent of the dish one might crave from a favorite Thai spot. An Anjou pear and Maytag Blue cheese salad provides a satisfying crunch with toasted hazelnuts and fresh thyme vinaigrette.
The aptly-named Virgin Redhead, arriving just in time for a second entree, is decidedly non-virgin. A bright and nuanced cocktail blending Bombay Sapphire with Cassis and bubbly, the Redhead is a sparkling precursor to the main event: a beautiful plate of smoked fish and red pepper.
Pieces of poached haddock are light on the tongue and seem to melt in the mouth alongside their crispier counterparts, spiced potato wedges. Yolk from the poached egg perched atop the dish lends it a nice cohesion.
The savory journey ends with the artisan cheese plate, lovingly curated with a tiny pot of fruit chutney. A delectable dessert called “Everlasting lemon and brandy syllabub,” finished off with cracked black pepper shortbread, tastes as poetic as it sounds.
As far as culinary experiences go, it’s safe to say this is the most at home you’ll ever feel at an airport, which is a very satisfying feeling indeed.
— el fin.
Also, don’t forget to check out Virgin Atlantic’s incredible web feature entitled, How I Clubhouse. Next time you visit the clubhouse, you can share your clubhouse photos by using Instagram and the hashtag HowIClubhouse. Visit the site to see how others have enjoyed the experience.